Melissa Joan Hart reflects on unflattering magazine photo: 'Seeing this photo again makes me mad'

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Melissa Joan Hart shared an unflattering magazine photo that still makes her
Melissa Joan Hart shared an unflattering magazine photo that still makes her "mad." (Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Melissa Joan Hart is still “mad” about an unflattering photo of her that was meant to shame her for gaining weight.

In a Friday Instagram post, the Sabrina, the Teenage Witch alum shared a 2009 paparazzi photo of herself at the beach with her family. The second photo in the post revealed that an issue of People magazine from that same year had used a photo of her from that beach trip as the “before” photo of her weight loss journey.

“I just found this photo that the paparazzi took of me on the beach in Malibu when I was three weeks out from having baby Brady,” the mom of three began her caption. “If you slide the photo over you'll see the photo they use on the cover of people magazine to make people think I was heavier than I actually was.”

She shared that “seeing this photo again makes me mad because even with the extra baby weight I don't hate the way I look here.”

“I feel like the pendulum is swinging right now to allow people to gain and lose weight without a lot of hate being spewed,” she noted, “but let's continue to give each other AND OURSELVES grace to be who we are and want/ need to be!”

Hart’s comments resonated with her Instagram followers — including her former co-stars. Elisa Donovan — who played Sabrina’s roommate Morgan on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and has been candid about her battle with anorexia — applauded Hart for her words.

“This makes me [angry] on so many levels,” Donovan wrote. “The focus on women’s bodies and how they should or shouldn’t look is criminal and insidious. And as the parent of a girl it’s something I have to constantly be aware of and unravel/unteach all of the BS that permeates the media!!! I could scream! You’re a beautiful mama in every way!”

Another follower wrote, “I remember when this magazine came out and I was so annoyed! Not from your perspective, but the fact that they had the audacity to use the word ‘horrifying’ to describe a photo, of an actual human being. Three weeks after having a baby, out in full swing, and looking absolutely beautiful as always; should be praised, not used in a negative manner. Also, that bathing suit at the beach is gorgeous! I love the color.”

A third shared, “This is why so many people think they have to lose all the baby weight. I had my daughter 11 years ago and even though I have lost some weight I haven't lost my ‘baby pouch’ which is OK!”

Hart has spoken out about trying to have a healthy body image before. In a 2019 interview with Us Weekly, she revealed that agents have previously told her to lose weight in order to be successful in Hollywood. While she said she always felt she had a “pretty healthy weight,” she has other insecurities she is working on overcoming.

“I have a really good body image,” she explained at the time. “But I definitely have things I wish I could change and things I get down on myself about. For example, I hate my neck — when I notice people with beautiful jawlines, I want that. But I don’t know if anybody really notices my neck except me. I try to put that in perspective.”

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